Saša Asentić 

Aesthetics of access and politics of memory

Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Art & Craft

Photo: Anja Beutler

My research proposal takes place in the context of the MEMORYWORK project. MEMORYWORK is a platform for sharing interdisciplinary artistic research on performative memory work.

One of the critical key questions of MEMORYWORK is: Whose stories are heard, retold, and given attention? As an artist and cultural activist, I share this concern. My practice takes place in the context of contemporary dance, performance, and disability arts. The critical examination of the historicization of dance and learning about the past from different witnesses, actors, and participants, as well as from analyzing diverse forms of official and alternative archives have an important role in my artistic and research work. My approach to dance history is inspired by Walter Benjamin’s concept of history which breaks with the idea of history as a continuum by making the present moment political - it is the present that is supposed to be changed and revolutionized as a legacy for the future. One of the procedures that I use in my artistic work is reconstruction, which I understand as an act of resistance against ableism in dance and cultural oppression by re-actualizing works, concepts, practices, or events from the past that are overlooked, forgotten, and erased from memory and (dance) history.


Another important concern of the project MEMORYWORK that I also share is in examining “intangible structures that shape the way we perceive and remember the past and hence understand the world around us.” My artistic concern lies in critically analyzing these “intangible” structures because I believe that they are very tangible, concrete, and material, and the very belief that they are illusive, immaterial, and invisible is part of the problem in how the normative ableist capitalist system disciplines us to think, believe, and imagine i.e., to perceive, remember and understand our past, present and future, in order to keep the status quo.

During my 3-year tenure, I plan to develop further broad accessibility provisions in my artistic practice and to create research and presentation forms that are based on accessibility as the main principle for inventing new modes of work, research, and sociability in artistic practice that inform aesthetics of access.

Accessibility in this process will be taken as the material condition of work that will allow the aesthetics of access to emerge and create new memories of solidarity and social justice.


The key question that I would like to examine through my artistic research proposal is:

  • How can aesthetics of access create new memories and change the affective states from which we perceive and remember the past and understand the world around us?


During the artistic research, as a non-disabled artist and cultural activist with 25 years of anti-ableist practice in performing arts, I plan to continuously reflect upon the critical potential of aesthetics of access in the creation of new memories and new social facts, as well as to reflect further on the role and accountability that artist as a worker in public have in building anti-discriminatory and accessible structures in dance and performance.


Pronounced: Saʃa Asentitʃ

Pronouns: he/him/his


Saša Asentić is a choreographer and cultural worker.

He was born in a working-class family in the Socialist Federal Republic of  Yugoslavia. During the war against the SFR Yugoslavia, as an antimilitarist, he illegally escaped in 1995 from Bosnia and found refuge in Serbia, where he became active within the independent cultural scene in the late 1990s.

Since 2007, his artistic work has been presented internationally in major venues and festivals of contemporary performing arts across Germany, as well as in New York, Paris, Tokyo, Vienna, Athens, Moscow, and other cities.

Asentić is a founder of Per.Art organization, which gathers since 1999 a group of disabled and non-disabled artists, that challenge and counter ableism in dance and culture.

Asentić works in the field of contemporary dance, performance, and disability arts. His artistic practice is based on the principle of solidarity, and resistance against cultural oppression and indoctrination.

After being a victim of homophobic and xenophobic violence, and fundamentally disagreeing with the corruption in the public sector in Serbia and the right-wing renaissance, he moved to Germany in 2011. He lives and works between Oslo, Novi Sad, and Berlin.



Artistic Research Spring Forum 2024

1st presentation

I would like to introduce my research project and the key concepts that define my artistic practice. I plan to present a selection of audio, video and photo documentation of performances that I realized during the first phase of the research project. I would like to share my thoughts about the interest in hybrid forms between performance and reflection, and my plans for examining it further in relation to the aspect of explicit reflection in the PhD project.


I understand this presentation in public as an encounter with fellow researchers and artists, and I’m interested in feedback that emerges from thinking together based on curiosity, enthusiasm and accountability. 


My presentation will be in spoken English. Some of the excerpts from audio and video materials will include other spoken and sign languages that will not be translated in English on this occasion, but I plan to give explanations within the presentation.